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Khalidi and Cohen scheduled to win debate February 9 at NYU

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A year after Yale students held a debate, "Resolved, the U.S. should end the special relationship with Israel," with John Mearsheimer arguing Pro, an outfit at NYU is staging the same debate, for $45 admission: Should the U.S. "step back from" the special relationship, and this time no Mearsheimer. Rashid Khalidi and Roger Cohen will argue the affirmative. Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador, and Stu Eizenstat, former Carter aide, will say No. Notice the prevarication in the blurb about the lobby. It says that the special relationship is based on "mutual loyalty." I believe that’s a tautology. Or, on "finance or energy convenience"– what’s that mean? Someone was hunting for euphemisms! Here’s the fight card:

In a zero sum Middle East, does America’s coziness with Israel cost us in good will with Muslim world, including those oil-rich Arab states whose dollar holdings come back to the US in the form of investments and loans, which the US economy needs – especially now?

But there’s an important connection between the US and Israel – that goes deeper than finance or energy convenience. It’s a foundation of mutual loyalty and shared values – democracy being only the most obvious. There has also been a history of shared intelligence, military cooperation, and significant cross-fertilization of scientific knowledge. To sacrifice these connections to improve relations with the Arab world would be an act of betrayal — of an ally — and of what we say we stand for.

Should the US consider putting some distance between itself and Israel? Would such a change in policy serve American interests, or is it a move we would come to regret?

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